2020-03-22: Leopards at night

At the start of the month I shared a post with some images of leopards at night and this post is a follow-on to that, showing what images taken with a red spotlight filter look like.

I’ve done  a lot of editing in the past of red spotlight filter images to black and white, as I find they turn out to be stunning (there are a few examples of lions at night in my gallery that were done this way) but I wanted to leave these as is, and do the best I could with editing the images, because seeing them this way gives another real life look at what being on safari, and on a night game drive in particular, can be like.

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A young female leopard that we came across on our first drive while staying at Lion Sands River Lodge.  This had been quite an epic game drive as about 15 minutes before this, I saw my first ever honey badgers!
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This was a bit of a strange sighting, as we were tracking a leopard (not this one) but the ranger and tracker kept finding confusing tracks that backtracked over each other.  We finally found this small female in a tree, with a much larger male on the ground nearby.  There was also another male in the area, and once the team figured all that out, the tracks made a whole lot more sense.
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The red filter puts less strain on the eyes for the animal being viewed, while still allowing for some viewing and photo opportunities.  Even with the spotlight, the images I took were between ISO 5000 and ISO 12800.  I had a couple even at 25,600, but didn’t select them as there were similar images with less noise, so why go through the extra work?
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This image is at ISO 12,800 and there is definitely a deterioration in quality compared to some of the others (plus the noise reduction has made the images appear blurry), but the moment here was interesting as this female was about to head down the tree, but then spotted the male still moving below and decided to hold fast awhile longer.  She was definitely a very nervous cat.
This is one of the males that was involved in all the drama; I didn’t have an opportunity to see the second male as we had had a really interesting sighting and another vehicle showed up with guests that hadn’t seen a leopard yet, so we let them take over our position and carry on trying to track the second male through the bushes.  Even a leopard in the dark under red light, is better than no leopard at all.  And they did manage to find him and have a quick sighting before heading back to camp for dinner.

I hope you have enjoyed, and wishing you a safe and healthy week ahead.  Take care.

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